Lady Bird (2017): ‘One in Many’ – A Film Review



Some original stories get lost amongst the many franchises out there but some do make a mark. Lady Bird, starring Saoirse Ronan, has gained attention by its many award nominations and being amongst the top ten films of the year for the National Board of Review, the American Film Institute and Time. It has quickly become a generally favoured and very successful film. The film notes a rarity as being written and directed by a female writer/director – Greta Gerwig, and focusing on feminine themes; thus feeling like one of the most successful films to come out recently that has does so.


A Lady Bird Amongst Flies – Individualism within Communities

Focusing very much on a specific time period and a specific part of life, Lady Bird is a coming of age story discussing the themes of individualism, family love and financial stresses. Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) puts in a heart-warming and honest performance, whilst through editing and moments of montage we quickly see different parts of her life and quickly build up a sense of her surroundings. This use of editing almost recalls Maya Deren’s experimental use of space in the 1940s and properly lends itself to the emotional background to the film. Rooted in the location of suburban school life in Sacramento, the film uses surroundings for identity. All whilst, also, focusing on a teenage search for asserting the self and bringing oneself out of such areas as school, poverty, family, religion and suburban life. In some ways there is a recall to Donnie Darko in surroundings and teenage years (only), as well as the honesty, awkwardness and strength of the characters in Welcome to the Dollhouse. Despite these comparisons Lady Bird is very much its own entity with its own strengths.


The Little Moments

Lady Bird juggles these themes very effectively whilst keeping a sense of direction throughout. Other characters know exactly how to take their own moments and leave the spotlight for the central character. This balances out the film considering the character of Lady Bird, who is someone who is strong in making a statement for the sense of her ‘self’. Lady Bird is both the character and title and despite other characters reactions, it perfectly reflects the sense of ownership of ones own circumstances and the sense of individualism the character then has. A calm assertion that they are special, within this world that feels to modestly sit in a repressed setting – as many characters try to hold her back to less than what she is. Comical in parts, dramatic in others and downright awkward in others, Lady Bird walks at pace with interest and entertainment.



Lady Bird isn’t exactly for everyone but it is a very accomplished piece of cinema. Characters don’t always do or know the right thing and the film doesn’t rush or force the action, but feels the moments and the environments; and Lady Bird completely understands its own themes. Lady Bird is understandably making its mark and has earned its space on the top films of 2017; and is worth a try just once – even if not guaranteed to strike a chord with everyone.




Christine McPherson dubs herself “Lady Bird” and looks to a future, a future without her hometown and beyond the limits that her family and school tell her. Not quite knowing how she fits in with her surroundings, she learns and grows to understand love, affection and new and old friendship.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Donnie Darko (d. Richard Kelly USA 2001)

Lady Bird (d. Greta Gerwig USA 2017)

Welcome to the Dollhouse (d. Todd Solandz USA 1995)



Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Saoirse Ronan

Interview with Greta Gerwig

Interview with Greta Gerwig & Saoirse Ronan

10 Surprising Facts



Anatomy of the Scene

Behind the Scenes


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IT (2017): ‘Horror or Comedy,  Pennywise?’ – A Film Review

Wonder Woman (2017) – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


Lady Bird (d. Greta Gerwig USA 2017)


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